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News article created on 17 May 2013

Help save London's endangered eels

One of the nation’s critically endangered species – the European eel – has made an appearance in Brentford, London. Now local charities are calling for volunteers to help monitor the eels this summer as they make the journey upstream to mature.

In May, an elver – a juvenile eel – was spotted in a monitoring station on the River Brent in Brentford within a week of a new elver pass, which allows elvers to get round barriers such as weirs, becoming operational.

Over the last 30 years the number of elvers joining the adult population of European eels in our rivers has declined. The Canal & River Trust has been working in partnership with the Thames Rivers Trust and the Zoological Society of London to make a number of improvements to allow elvers to move past barriers on the River Brent, one of the measures necessary to contribute to the recovery of the eels.

Free training session

Volunteers are being sought to monitor the migration of the eels on the River Brent in Brentford. On 24 May 2013 volunteers are being invited to a free training session where they will learn how to check the eel trap and count and measure any eels. The training will take place at 18:00 at Stoney Sluice, located in Brentford. To book a place, volunteers should email: ccockel@thamesriverstrust.org.uk

Eel monitoring takes place between April and September so volunteers will get to enjoy the summer on London’s rivers, while playing an important role in helping understand eels in the Thames. 

Leela O’Dea, environment manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “It’s really exciting to have proof that eels are finding their way up the Thames to Brentford. They really do make an incredible journey, travelling all the way from the Sargasso Sea on their way back to Britain to mature, and we’re supporting their recovery on London’s rivers by removing barriers and improving the environment. Volunteers are tremendously passionate about our canals and rivers and the animals and plants that thrive on them and this is a great chance to get involved in helping us understand the habits of the critically endangered European eel.”

Chris Cockel, River Brent project officer with the Thames Rivers Trust, said: “After two years of planning, it was thrilling to find a glass eel in the trap at Brentford, particularly considering the epic journey it must have made from the other side of the Atlantic.”